Legions of quality Truckee football players have come and gone and never gotten so much as a sniff of interest from the University of Nevada, Reno — until now.
Truckee senior lineman Nathan Golden, who turned coaches’ heads at a full-contact camp at UNR last June, was recently invited by the Wolf Pack to join the Division I football program as a preferred walk-on next season.
“Ault never gave local guys a chance, and we’ve had some studs,” Truckee coach Josh Ivens said of longtime Nevada coach Chris Ault, who retired after the 2012 season. “So I think (second-year coach Brian) Polian is responsible for that, for sure. I think it’s his ability to reach out to the community of Northern Nevada and all the schools. He deserves some credit for looking at our guys and giving them a chance.”
Golden deserves his due credit, too, Ivens said.
The big lineman, at 6-2 and 260 pounds, caught the attention of Polian and staff with his hustle and discipline at the June camp, which also was attended by Truckee teammates Mitch Harrity, Blake Crosby and Adam Crosby. The coach was impressed with all four. He named Harrity MVP of the camp.
Golden stayed in touch with Nevada’s recruiting coordinator, Mike Bradeson, who came to Truckee to meet with Golden and Blake Crosby a couple of weeks ago, Ivens said. Golden took him up on his offer to join the Wolf Pack as a preferred walk-on.
“I’m guaranteed a spot and I’m on the roster for next year; it’s just that they are not giving me money to go to their school,” said Golden, who added that he is unsure whether or not he will redshirt his freshman season.
A versatile lineman on both sides of the ball for the Wolverines, Golden said he’ll likely play center or guard for the Wolf Pack. Ivens is confident he will succeed at the Division I level once immersed in Nevada’s system, as Golden was a key member of both Truckee lines before going down last season with a broken ankle against Fernley.
“Nate’s biggest strength for us was his knowledge of the offense — and his size. He played each position, and for a Truckee kid, 260 is big,” said Ivens, adding that Golden was one of the few juniors who saw regular playing time on the 2012 state champion team. “So just being a student of the game made him very valuable, and it really hurt us when he broke his ankle. We dropped off quite a bit there.”
Golden, who decided in eighth grade that he wanted to play college ball, also impressed coaches at the National Underclassmen Combine in Stockton last summer. His assessment from the camp stated: “Good feet, very strong, great attitude, driven, coachable, good leader.” He’s since attended camps at UC Davis and UC Berkeley.
While Ivens and longtime Truckee coach Bob Shaffer — who retired after the 2012 season — helped mentor Golden as a Wolverine, it was offensive line coach Rick Wilson who helped him develop most.
“Coach Wilson has helped me since I was 10 years old and said he could get me as far as I wanted to go as long as I kept working at it,” Golden said. “He taught me everything from technique, weight lifting, speed, agility and poise.”